A fellow foodie, Leah, has started to offer her chef skills to the peeps of Okinawa: Mean Cuisine! I took advantage of the October special and booked a “Mix it Up” Class. After a few emails back and forth and a small deposit, my reservation was made!
We met at Awase Fish Market at a designated time plus the 10 minutes it took me to do a u-turn and map study. We started at the veggie stand. Leah explained where specific veggies came from with details on taste, texture and recipe ideas. We picked out some good looking veggies and headed into the actual market. Inside we notice it was slim picking on the fish front. 3 o’clock was a bit late for a good selection. We were still able to pick out a few whole fish and turned them into the super quick
fish-cleaner-guy fishmonger while we made our way to the sashimi section.
When all was said and done, I spent around ¥6,000 in fresh vegetables and fish- planning to serving 12.
Back at my house we unloaded the groceries and started the first side: Garlic- Chipotle Kabocha. Kabocha is a Japanese pumpkin and available everywhere!!! I have never cooked with this little guy… this is what I learned: 1.) you’re supposed to eat the peel and 2.) in some cultures it’s an aphrodisiac!!
- 1 kabocha; stem and bottom removed, deseeded, and sliced into wedges
- 4 T EVOO
- 3 T garlic granules
- 2 t Chipotle powder
Preheat oven to 350. Smother kabocha wedges with EVOO, sprinkle with garlic and chipotle and roast for 20 minutes. Flip and roast for 20 more.
My guests arrived willing and eager to learn and cook– Leah put them to work washing the lettuce for the sashimi salad. While one side of the kitchen prepped the salad, Leah and I started the Fish Head Soup. This soup looks complicated… it’s not- promise!!
Fish Head Soup
- 1 pot of water
- 3 fish heads
- 1 yellow onion; ends cut off and chopped in half (leave the skin)
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 t marjoram, dried
- 1 t thyme, dried
- 1/2 t Madras Curry Powder
- 1 T coconut four
- 1 T arrowroot powder
- 3″ lemon grass, bruised
- Bring ingredients to a boil and then down to a simmer.
- When the fish’s eyes “pop” it’s time to start adding salt, pepper, more salt.
- Boil until the soup reduces to half the volume.
- Strain everything out so you’re left with only broth.
- Mix curry powder, coconut flour and arrowroot in a small dish then add to fish broth and mix with a hand blender
- Add fish balls, lemon grass, salt and pepper- soup is ready when the fish balls start floating!
- 1 raw fish, skin and bones removed, chopped
- 1 T fresh cilantro, minced
- ½ t black salt
- ¼ t wasabi powder
- Mix all ingredients with fingertips in a small bowl.
- Form small balls about the size of paintballs.
- Drop into fish broth.
- Soup is ready when the fish balls start floating!
Yes, I’m saving the best for last:
- Whole fish: innards, head and scaled removed
- 1 stick of butter
- Kosher Salt
- (optional: garlic granules, herb, etc. of your choice).
- Melt butter in pan at med-high heat.
- Make paste of oil, salt and herbs or spices that you choose.
- Massage into skin of fish.
- Fry fish until it moves easily in the pan.
Mean Cuisine Review:
Overview: I met Leah at Awase fish market and purchased ingredients to serve 12 for a “fish dinner”. In my kitchen, we made: fish ball soup, sashimi salad, garlic-chipotle kabocha, three butter-fried fish and 1 oven baked fish. It took 2 hours from unloading groceries to saying grace.
Pros: Leah’s Mean Cuisine was a great opportunity and I plan on doing it again (Kokasai Street next time!!!)! She was informative, creative and a pleasure to learn from. My favorite part was having her in my kitchen. For example, I have more spices than you can shake a stick at yet I rarely use them. Leah went through all my spices and gave me some awesome suggestions and pairings. The laughter that helped build dinner will not be soon forgotten!!!
Cons: We bought waaaaaay too much sashimi. Also, I had originally shopped for 12 dinner guests. Luckily, a couple of husbands didn’t make it and we had just enough for every one.
Prices: Book a cooking lesson before October 31 and pay only ¥1,000 per student per hour (minimum 2 hours) plus materials fee.